Achieving Full Custody of Your Child in California

If you’re a California parent seeking full custody of your child, it’s crucial to be well-informed about the necessary steps and the factors that influence the court’s decision. In this blog post, we’ll break down how to pursue full custody in California, offering valuable insights to help you navigate this challenging journey.

Understanding Legal Full Custody in California

Types of Custody

Before we dive into the process of securing full custody, let’s first understand the different types of custody in California:

1. Physical Custody: Where the child lives. Sole physical custody means the child primarily lives with one parent, while joint physical custody means the child spends significant time with both parents.

2. Legal Custody: The right to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Sole legal custody means one parent has the authority to make these decisions, while joint legal custody means both parents share the responsibility.

Preference for Joint Legal Custody

California courts generally prefer joint legal custody arrangements because it’s usually in the child’s best interest to have both parents involved in decision-making. However, the court may grant sole legal and/or physical custody under specific circumstances.

Factors Considered by California Courts 

When it comes to custody decisions, California courts always prioritize the best interests of the child. To secure full custody, you must demonstrate that it’s in the child’s best interest for you to have sole custody. Here are some key factors the courts consider:

  • The child’s age, health, and emotional bonds with each parent.
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment.
  • How well the child is adjusting to their current living situation, school, and community.
  • Any history of abuse, domestic violence, or substance abuse by either parent.
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • The child’s preferences (if they are old enough to express them).

Steps to Pursue Full Custody

1. Consult with an Attorney: To navigate the legal complexities effectively, it’s highly recommended to consult with an experienced family law attorney specializing in child custody cases.

2. Mediation or Negotiation: Try to reach an agreement with the other parent through mediation or negotiation. If you can agree on custody arrangements, the court is more likely to approve them.

3. Filing a Custody Request: If negotiations fall through, file a custody request with the court. The court will schedule hearings to assess both parents’ suitability and consider the child’s best interests.

4. Attending Court Hearings: Attend all court hearings and present your case persuasively. Be prepared to provide evidence and call witnesses to support your claim for full custody.

5. Following Court Orders: If the court grants full custody, make sure to adhere to all court orders and cooperate with visitation arrangements if the other parent is granted visitation rights.


Achieving full custody of your child in California involves navigating a complex process with a sharp focus on the child’s best interests. While it can be challenging, with the right legal counsel and a compelling case demonstrating that sole custody serves the child’s best interests, it is indeed possible. Always consult with an attorney and diligently follow the legal procedures to increase your chances of attaining your desired custody arrangement. Above all, remember that the welfare of your child should remain your top priority throughout this challenging journey. For more in-depth guidance on child custody in California, continue exploring our blog.